Thursday, June 16, 2022

Students, Teachers Call For Stricter Gun Laws at Beaver's March For Our Lives Rally

Photo: Community organizer Julian Taylor speaks behind students at Beaver County’s March For Our Lives rally on Thursday, calling for stricter gun laws. “These are our future lawyers, our future presidents, our future leaders,” he said. “It’s time for us to have their back.”

By Chrissy Suttles

Beaver County Times

June 10, 2922 - BEAVER — In April, Iain Eastman’s former student opened fire on two teens in a Chippewa Township parking lot.

Those bullets missed the intended targets – instead striking a nearby structure – but it’s not the first time Eastman’s been touched by gun violence.

A Blackhawk High science teacher and father, Eastman is also a hunter and gun owner of three decades. Responsible firearm owners, he said, have an obligation to advocate for common sense gun laws in America.

As an educator, he vividly remembers his first in-service day dedicated to active shooter training in the wake of Sandy Hook’s massacre. Rather than improving curriculum, he spent the day learning how to disarm an assailant and build barricades to protect his students.

“There’s not a safe place anymore,” he told a crowd of about 100 people on the steps of the Beaver County Courthouse Thursday night. “There’s no ‘Beaver bubble’ that’s gonna protect us anymore. I used to teach in Baltimore. Four years after I left, there was a shooting on the first day of school in the cafeteria.”

Blackhawk High science teacher Iain Eastman speaks at Beaver County's March For Our Lives rally in Beaver Thursday.

Just weeks after an 18-year-old man slaughtered 19 children and two teachers with an AR-15-style rifle at a Texas elementary school, local residents, politicians and activists honored the victims and demanded stricter gun laws at a March For Our Lives rally in Beaver.

Eastman said he knows gun control works because fully automatic weapons – as opposed to semi-automatic weapons like AR-15-style rifles used in Uvalde and other mass shootings – are already highly regulated in America and rarely end up in the hands of civilians.

'What if that happened to me?'

Among the demonstrators Thursday were local students who shared the trauma of enduring regular active shooter drills and questioning their safety in the classroom. One Aliquippa Middle School student whose first name is Dashawn said he was afraid to return to school after hearing about the recent Robb Elementary shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

“What if that person came to my school?” he asked. “It just had me thinking…what if that happened to me? How would my mom feel?”

Residents of all ages honored the victims of gun violence and demanded stricter gun laws at a March For Our Lives rally in Beaver.

Aliquippa Mayor Dwan Walker’s sister, Diedre, was shot and killed by her former boyfriend at her Valley Terrace apartment more than a decade ago.

“She was murdered by a man that should never have had a gun, stole a gun and shot my sister,” he said. “My mom still cries. I still cry. I miss her every day. It’s been 12 years, and I still wish I could hear her voice in my head. But I can’t.”